Chicken Tikka

Posted on September 3, 2011


A platter of Chicken Tikka, right off the grill

Chicken Tikka is a great way to enjoy Indian Food on the grill, so it is a perfect summer dish.  This recipe is also a great way to introduce Indian food to your family, since I have not yet encountered anyone who didn’t like it.  How can you go wrong with chicken marinated in yogurt and spices?

I guess I should call this cheater Tandoori chicken because I don’t really have a Tandoor, or clay oven.  That would be nice….I have room for one in my backyard.  Maybe someday.  For now, I get good results with the grill.

You can use any cut of chicken you like, but we like chicken drumsticks for this.  The only pain about using drumsticks is that you have to skin them, which is quite a chore. We have yet to find skinless drums locally.  Traditionally,  you use chicken breast that is threaded on skewers and grilled.  So a bit labor intensive to start–you are either skinning chicken or threading it on skewers.  And then you have to count on marinating time.  Overnight is great, but even several hours before will work.  Indian food is not difficult, but you do have to plan in advance what you want to eat.

Here are the instructions:

Start by skinning the drumsticks or cutting the chicken breast into 1 to 1 – 1/2” pieces.  You need about 1 -1/2 lbs of breast or a half dozen legs per batch of marinade.  We usually double it for our family of six.

Make the marinade:

1/2 c. plus 2 T. plain yogurt (we like Greek yogurt or Nancy’s yogurt best)

1 T. grated fresh ginger (or you can use the fresh ginger that is bottled or in tubes)

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 tsp. indian chili powder (sub cayenne if needed–and use LESS if you want to keep it super mild)

1 T. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. salt

4 T. lemon juice

2 T. canola or olive oil

Mix everything together.  Drop the chicken cubes into the marinade and stir.  If using larger chicken pieces, place them in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinate on top, and then squish it all around to coat evenly.

Leave the chicken marinate overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready the next day, thread the breast chunks on skewers.  Don’t forget to soak those skewers for several hours before-hand so they don’t go up in flames on the grill!

Preheat your grill so it is good and hot.  Place the chicken on the grill, then turn down to low.  The chicken legs need about 8-10 minutes per side, on low.  The chicken skewers need about 5 minutes, but there are so many variables with grilling you just be your own best judge.

When you don’t feel like turning on your grill, or it is the dead of winter, you can also cook the chicken on broil in the oven.  Either way, this recipe yields tender, flavorful chicken that can be served as is, or used as a basis for other recipes, like Chicken Tikka Masala.

If you are lucky enough to live near an Asian food market or Indian import store, you might be able to locate pre-made spice packs that you just use straight up with yogurt for the marinade.

These are handy because of the convenience, but we prefer the taste of making it from scratch.  Here is a plate of Chicken Tikka in action:

Chicken Tikka with cabbage, basmati rice and raita

Say goodbye to summer with some grilled Chicken Tikka!  There is some chicken breast in my fridge right now…..I think it wants to become Chicken Tikka.  Off I go!